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Life is tough. Nuns are tougher.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Good-bye Sisters! Don't Let the Door Hit You......

Before I could get it together to write about this phenomenon, my readers were already asking about it. Three nuns live in a house together, an old one, a crotchety one who still works and a younger nun who cooks for everyone. It's not a new sitcom. It's pretty much how a lot of nuns live these days. It's how I live. But the story is not mine.

Unlike the Cavemen in the commercial, who ended up getting their own television show, nuns toil in the background trying to figure out where they can do the most good. Once they figure that out, they have to get support in their mission from their Mother House and from the Archdiocese. Nuns can't just run off willy nilly doing what ever good they feel like doing. They have to have it approved.

But once they have it approved they are pretty much on their own to complete the mission. No up armored humvees will come their way. At first they'll be lucky to pull off a bake sale. Even Mother Teresa had to trudge off to India on her own dime, gather up the sick people off the street and find some housing for them and for herself.

They beg, they plead, they work. They are unstoppable. They found schools, hospitals, orphanages, hospice care and old folks homes. They don't care a fig about what they have or don't have for themselves, except that maybe it's good if the car runs so they can get there to help people faster. It's all about the mission.

They do this because they are nuns. They are married to Jesus and this is what Jesus wants them to do.

I should include myself when I say 'they'. (I'm married to Jesus the Demanding Spouse. What a slave driver. No wonder Mother Teresa was so mad when He stopped talking to her all those years. They managed to work things out.) But today I am really talking about what happened to them. The three nuns who live in a house, the old one, the one still at work and the young cook.

Before you read the story I should tell you that if you haven't had your coffee yet, or said your prayers or you have a headache, you might want to read this when you have your faculties lined up better. I was blindsided by it the other morning and have not yet recovered.

Here's the story. I'll wait for you to catch up.

I haven't collected by own thoughts except for these: Nuns have their hearts broken all the time.
As Mother Teresa discovered, it's one of the chief ways we share in the suffering of Jesus. For example, my mother was raised by nuns in an orphanage. One day the archdiocese sent a letter to the nuns there and told them their services were no longer required. The children went to state facilities and the nuns went off to work elsewhere. Good-bye, Sisters. Don't trip over your hearts on the way out the door!

So we know the three nuns will soldier on. They won't have a sitcom when they move to LA. They will find a new mission and a new house. Meanwhile, they're starring in a horror film.

I'll let you have at it for a bit and then we'll discuss.


ann nonymous said...

Dear Sister,

I don't know what to say! It breaks my heart as well. I know that I have to forgive the priests who caused all of this, and the bishops who, in my opinion, mishandled the situation but, every time I read something like this, I get angry all over again. I'm sorry, I know I said that before. It really makes me angry. I saw Fr. Corapi on t.v. one night (EWTN) and he spoke of his initial anger and how it hurt him that his brother priests had committed these horrific acts. How awful that our good, faithful priests and religious have to bear the burden of this scandal. How awful that these crimes will be paid for with the offerings of the faithful in the pews. Oh, it's not that I mind paying in money for the sins committed, the crimes committed against these victims. They need money to seek treatment at the very least. So, I am not complaining about my contribution going to those victims. But, when I read about these poor nuns, it truly breaks my heart. You spend your whole life doing the Lord's work. You don't live a life of comfort and privilege, not materially speaking, I mean. I don't care about detachment and poverty in this situation. I care that these nuns are being displaced. They're being evicted from their home. Where will they go? What will they do? Now, don't get me wrong. I have all faith in the Lord that this will work out for them but, goodness, why must these women have to face one more trial or hardship? Where are those priests? I'd like to hear from them on this issue. I don't recall ever hearing any sort of apology. I guess that is what makes me the maddest. Don't think badly of me for telling you that I will stew about this for quite a while before I get right with it. I hope I'm over it by Saturday and can go to confession with perfect contrition. Would you pray for me, please? I am praying for you three wonderful nuns and the Santa Barbara nuns.

One more thing, Sister. I am concerned that we may never hear of these nuns again in the news. Would it be possible for you to keep us posted on their situation if you have knowledge or information? Whew. Thanks for listening.

Thank you and God bless you!

ann nonymous said...

Okay, it's me again, Sister. I may just be over my whining and complaining and lamenting the fate of these nuns. I'm on to more practical concerns. What do you think we could do to help them? I don't live out there but, I could send some money. I'm sure there are tons of people who would do the same. What do you think?

ann nonymous said...

Once more, and then, I promise I'll refrain from posting until at least tomorrow afternoon. It's 2 in the morning here.

Okay, I googled the nuns and found a few stories. All are saying that the locals are trying to raise money to keep the nuns in their home. None gave details about how to donate. Maybe that will come later. Here's a question. Can the nuns own the property if someone buys it for them or will the Archdiocese get it? THAT would make me mad all over again. I'd like to contribute. L.A. Times won't let me go to second page of the article unless I register but, I don't want to do that because of all the junk mail I'll get. Let us know please if you see anything that posts a site or address to which we could send contributions. Thanks, Sister. Once again, the Good Lord is answering prayers. God bless you and keep you.

Anonymous said...

Faithful wrote:

"How awful that these crimes will be paid for with the offerings of the faithful in the pews. Oh, it's not that I mind paying in money for the sins committed, the crimes committed against these victims. They need money to seek treatment at the very least. So, I am not complaining about my contribution going to those victims."

First of all, allegations are not "crimes", though crimes there may have been.
Secondly, you prove crimes in court and the defendant gets sentenced if he is found guilty; you don't then try to take him (and any complete stranger who had nothing to do with whatever he did)for every dollar of his you can find. That makes it look awfully like it was all about the money. And when lawyers are involved, it often is. Back in the day, trials were a search for the truth.
Thirdly, at least in my diocese, treatment is paid for by the diocese so it isn't "treatment" that is being sought.
Fourthly, I AM complaining about it.
We need to resist the culture when it promotes execrable values. This is about getting aboard the gravy train, hitting the lottery, winning the jackpot; it isn't about "healing" - unless you think vengeance and taking advantage is salutary. I don't.
It isn't "justice" that is being sought and it isn't the offender who is punished when lawyers go after dioceses. I think you can see the evil fruit of the wicked clerical-sex-abuse-industry in the story of the sisters.

ann nonymous said...


When the dioceses decided to settle these civil suits, the point became moot as to whether these were allegations or crimes.

Victims don't get to decide whether or not prosecutors bring charges and/or take cases to trial. And, yes victims can and do, all the time, take defendants to civil court to try to win monetary damages whether the person was convicted or aquitted. Is it morally right? I happen to believe in most cases it is not. Is it legal? Absolutely. Should it be? I can see that there are many cases where it could be considered valid.

As for the "complete stranger who had nothing to do with whatever he did," it seems to me, from what I've read, in the court of public opinion there is enough anti-Catholic hatred out there that makes this "just" in the minds of many. Lawyers are going to do what lawyers do; go after the plaintiff with the deep pockets. They hit it big with this one. Do I like it? Not one bit. What am I going to do about it? Stop putting my envelope in the basket? No. Why not? Because I believe that, sooner or later, this settlement money will have to be paid out so we can get back to offering our treasure for the good work that it's used for. If I stop putting in my offering, that makes the burden that much heavier on the rest of the "complete strangers who had nothing to do with it." And, I believe that putting that envelope in the collection on Sunday with a hardened heart defeats the purpose. I've got to get past that feeling. The sooner the better. This is not justice to those of us in the pews or to the clergy and religious who are not a party to this.

You know, I've had friends ask me why I don't leave the Church because of this scandal. Well, I don't because I believe that is precisely what the devil would love to see. His fingerprints are all over this scandal from all sides. This does not shake my faith in God. In man, yes. I love my Church. I love my God more than anyone or anything. Jesus Christ told us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. I believe Him. We'll get through this. And, hopefully, by keeping the faith, He'll send us the answer to the injustice that is perpetrated by the very system meant to ensure justice to all.

I don't think it's my place to judge the hearts of the victims of the sexual abuse. I don't have to speculate to know just how much damage can be done to victims of sexual abuse. And, yes that damage can include monetary damage as well as emotional and spiritual damage.

Lastly, in case you missed it, I am aware of and disturbed by the "evil fruit" and have decided to do what I can to try to help these nuns remain in their home so that they may continue their mission. When I become aware of others in similar situations, I'll do what I can in those situations as well.

Anonymous said...

It is absolute insanity to sell the convent. Period.

Anonymous said...

I'll keep them in my thoughts and prayers.

Melanie said...

How sad is that? The nuns have to bear the consequenses for the action of those preists and all they were doing was serving our Lord! I hope everything turns out okay for them.

Anonymous said...

Here is some more information about what some members of the community are doing to help the Sisters. (Included in the article is a link to a story on one of the Eastside priests. Readers beware! This guy was despicable....)


Anonymous said...


I was addressing your remarks as typical of a reaction to all this: resigned acceptance that it is something other than a wicked rip-off. Most people I've encountered react as your remarks suggest: this is "justice" somehow. I wasn't taking you on, personally.

I don't think it is "justice" in any way. It also isn't "Christian" and specifically "Catholic" to take the position that money is a balm for wounds. If you've wrongly lost money, then, yes, you should be compensated for your loss. No case that I have ever read about argued that.

Are we saying, as a society, and are we accepting, as Christians, that life is about money? That if you get bumped in a fender bender, you should seize the opportunity to hit the jackpot? Sue the doctor. Sue McDonalds. Sue your neighbor and get as much as you can, even if what you get bears no relation to what could make you whole from having a branch fall on your lawn. You see the point.

Anonymous said...

Am I to understand the bishop lives alone in a house worth well over a million dollars? Wouldn't that be the first place to sell? And FAST as property values are dropping nationally? His change in residence wouldn't affect his working ability as it will these nuns.
How much of this money is to come from the dioceses where the abuse took place? All or some? Where is the rest to come from? Are the Catholics of South Dakota, far from the locations of these scandal, expected to kick in?
We need some real leadership to get through this. Has anybody seen any?

Anonymous said...

The Catholics of South Dakota will be selling off church property if they get sued by someone who suddenly "recovered" a memory of being touched on the backside 40 years ago. It doesn't go beyond the diocese as of now. But noises are being made to expand liability all the way to the Vatican. So fasten your seat belt.

ann nonymous said...

To the "Anonymous" who addressed comments to me:

I take no offense to your comments. And, I intend none to you. I agree with you absolutely that "this settlemet" bears no resemblance to "justice."

Life is not about money. I believe the the litigiousness of our society is but one indicator of
the depths to which we have descended. Don't get me started on that.

I absolutely do see your point! I agree with you. I pray this will change. Prayer and action. What else can we do?

Which brings me to this question: what would you propose we do to address this situation?

Money will not fix this situation. That is abundantly clear to me. But, what would happen if we all just stop our offerings of money? What would become of all of the good works that those offerings afford?

I have very strong opinions about this whole issue. I don't want to take up Sister's blog space with it all. I'll post about it on my own and, I'd enjoy your input.

Pax et bonum!

Anonymous said...

I know people are more aware of their giving. Is this money that stays in my diosece? is the asked alot. Nobody wants to pay for the sins of another. Yet isn't that exactly what Jesus did?

Anonymous said...


I take the position that I want to know what happened. Exactly. What specifically is the priest accused of doing? Take Father Geoghan, poster boy of the Boston crisis. Unspecified accusations swirled around him but the best case (and the only case) they could bring against him was this: he was accused of putting his hand under a boy's swimsuit while he gave him a boost out of a public pool at which the boy's mother was sitting poolside. I saw the trial on Court TV. They called it "rape" and "aggravated assault" in the papers but that is what it was. He was found guilty and sentenced to 10 years in prison; a prisoner murdered him shortly after he began his sentence.
Would anyone other than an ex-priest have gotten 10 years for that?
How many cases are on this level of not very serious matters?
If I were Bishop, I would defend priests who claim innocence and let it all - including details of the alleged offense - play out in court. I would have the guilty admit their guilt; many of them do. But it's probably too late for that. The chosen route is apologize, settle, apologize.
This looks like weakness to the sharks. Have you noticed that a priest will die, someone will make an accusation, it will get in the paper and suddenly 10 others suddenly remember an abuse that they say wrecked every day of their life but that they somehow forgot? Chancery attornys don't address this piling on at all. They just settle.
Anyone in authority who covered up - which is different from believing psychiatrists who judged the men cured - should resign and do a life of permanent public penance in a place like Mother Teresa's hospices.
Rehaul the seminaries. Restore the emphasis on holiness and orthodoxy. Eliminate "pastoral" laxness. This would take strong, committed Bishops.
As for weekly donations, they are irrelevant to all this. The money we give doesn't go to settlements but to parish upkeep, charitable outreach, schools, etc.

Christy said...

"Nobody wants to pay for the sins of another. Yet isn't that exactly what Jesus did?"

This is what I think. If we are truly one body, then we ought to be responsible as one body for ourselves. That's not to say that selling the nuns' home is necessarily the best choice, of course. I would hope that the bishop is truly being a good shepherd and considering the needs of his flock above all else.

Anonymous said...

I would feel better about stories like this if I knew the bishops who covered up the abuse cases were in different jobs. Aren't there any monestary gardens that need weeding? Couldn't they go off and serve the public as, say, a Walmart greeter as community service or something?

I think if money is collect to purchase the home for the sisters, they ought to have someone as legal owner who does not report to the archdiocese so they can't take it away.

Anonymous said...

The priest in this case is dead. He had taken slides of the boys in the nude. Some of them with erections. Are all these accusers telling the truth? I doubt it. But I am sure most of them have been damaged by abuse as boys. They settled because there was photograghic evidence proving abuse.

ann nonymous said...

To Anonymous, with whom I have been posting back and forth:

I have many, many more questions than answers. I agree that the bishops ought to have allowed these accusations to be tried in court. Sunshine! Bring it to the light! And, let the chips fall where they may. As it is, the only information, and I know it's not all the information, that I have comes from the media.

I agree that the priests, and the bishops need to be held to account. I'd like to see admissions of guilt, acceptance of responsibility, public apologies and removal from positions of authority, and incarceration and/or community service.

You have, in my opinion, some very good ideas about how to deal with this stuff.

I also understand and allow for the possibility, if not probability, that there has been some piling on. There ought to be an effective way to address that. Of course, if each accusation were taken to court, each accuser would have their own burden of proof.

Where does the money come from? Is it all to come from sale of property?

Anonymous said...

Except that I'm sure you're above this kind of thing, if the Bishop won't sell his residence, go plant some morning glories in his garden.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous at 3.28:

The photos were NOT of any of the plaintiffs. They played no part in the decision to settle. The identity of the photographer was never established. The diocese made no admission of wrong doing on the part of Kelly.

Kelly died in 2002. The first claim was made in 2003. The next claim came when someone watching news reports suddenly "recovered" his memory. Half of the 8 who made claims "recovered" their memories after seeing news of someone suing. Some had been friends of his for decades. At least 1 had gone to his funeral, mourning a good friend.
Both sides of the issue are given here:

Laura Michele said...

"Nobody wants to pay for the sins of another. Yet isn't that exactly what Jesus did?"

This is a great point and a reminder of who are role model is. It does seem unfair and horrible and very sad, but lets remember our place. God is the only one allowed to judge. In this difficult time we should continue to imitate Christ.

SMM I am so sorry to hear all this and you will be in my prayers every day. Good luck and keep your chin up.

Sweet Olive Press | Helen said...

This is tragic.

And to the archdiocese spokesman trying to smooth it all over, I'm astonished that he could mention employees missing their pay raises in the same sentence as these selfless nuns losing their HOME.

I'm appalled.

Arkanabar Ilarsadin said...

As for the nuns, and their home....
Obnoxious as it may be, perhaps what is needed is a trust that owns their home and grants use of it to them ... one not controlled by the parish or diocese, but kept and administered by faithful congregants who wish only to support the nuns in their missions. I realize I'm not addressing how this affects obedience, but I recognize that such questions are beyond my competence. This suggestion is only one for keeping the nuns more or less where they are, and how the parishioners could do so while protecting their home from being appropriated for something else by the Archdiocese.

Anonymous said...

That struck me too, 'gee, we didn't get any pay raise'. Little old ladies (no offense Sister) losing their home and their jobs is supposed to compare to an annual raise?

Anonymous said...

Dear Sister,

I am a practicing Episcopalian and am moving apartments. It so happened that while I was waiting to meet the letting agent to see the apartment I settled on, I slipped into the Catholic church across the street and joined the mass for the Nicene Creed and Prayers of the People. It was so nice to worship in community. I've never known a Catholic to be offended by others joining them for prayers, but would I offend if I took communion? I would not want to transgress as a visiting Christian. It's just, well, mass puts one in the right frame of mind for sharing in the body and blood.

In Fidem,

A Brooklynite

Anonymous said...

Isn't there something intrinsically unjust about the bishop getting to sell what belongs to the Faithful to pay for the crimes he himself is responsible for? Why not make him sell his condos and beach houses to help pay for his crimes? If he were the CEO of a major corporation indicted for crimes committed at the job, you can be sure he would have to come up with his lawsuit charges and fees out of his own pocket, not from the coffers of his company! Why should it be different for the bishops committing crimes under the employment of the Church? And if he were a CEO, you can bet he'd be putting in some jail time, too.

Instead of punishing the guilty, we throw out on the street little old nuns who have given their lives in sincere service to the Church.

When did we lose our sense of justice as a Church? Where is the Vatican?

God help us.

John Parker said...

Didn't Cardinal O'Malley in Boston sell the Archbishop's residence to pay some of the settlements there and then move into a small room in the Cathedral? That seems to be a fantastic example of apostolic leadership that should be echoed by Cardinal Mahoney.

Anonymous said...

Help me out- was this bishop involved in the cover up?

Anonymous said...


Would it be possible to link us to the post where you described how you came to be living in that house? Just to get full history of the story? I know I've seen it around here, somewhere....


Sister Mary Martha said...

Last anonymous, I am not living in that house. I was amazed at house closely our situation here in LA resembles theirs. It may as well be us.

Anonymous said...

The catholic clergy that are resposible for covering up the sinful priests should live in a shelter as punishment for their great sins. Their riches should be taken from them. No cars, no jewlery, nothing. They should become poor and feel the pain they have caused on all the children that were harmed by their actions of covering things up. The nuns have done nothing wrong and should live in their home as they have all their lives. I am a catholic and this is not right. These kind of actions is what makes our faith look unfaithful and not christians. This needs to stop. God does not look kindly on this and all our you know this. There is no justifications for selling property the nuns live in. Sell the vadican.